A sparrow, when sparrows like parrots could speak,
Addressed an old hen who could talk like a jay:
Said he, 'It's unjust that we sparrows must seek
Our food, when your family's fed every day.

'Were you like the peacock, that elegant bird,
The sight of whose plumage her master may please,
I then should not wonder that you are preferred
To the yard, where in affluence you live at your ease.

'I affect no great style, am not costly in feathers,
A good honest brown I find most to my liking,
It always looks neat, and is fit for all weathers,
But I think your grey mixture is not very striking.

'We know that the bird from the isles of Canary
Is fed, foreign airs to sing in a fine cage;
But your note from a cackle so seldom does vary,
The fancy of man it cannot much engage.

'My chirp to a song sure approaches much nearer,
Nay the nightingale tells me I sing not amiss;
If voice were in question I ought to be dearer;
But the owl he assures me there's nothing in this.

'Nor is it your proneness to domestication,
For he dwells in man's barn, and I build in man's thatch,
As we say to each other-but, to our vexation,
O'er your safety alone man keeps diligent watch.'

'Have you e'er learned to read?' said the hen to the sparrow,
'No, madam,' he answered, 'I can't say I have.'
'Then that is the reason your sight is so narrow,'
The old hen replied, with a look very grave.

'Mrs. Glasse in a Treatise-I wish you could read-
Our importance has shown, and has proved to us why
Man shields us and feeds us: of us he has need
Even before we are born, even after we die.'

About Charles Lamb

Charles Lamb was an English essayist, best known for his Essays of Elia and for the children's book Tales from Shakespeare, which he produced with his sister, Mary Lamb. Lamb has been referred to by E.V. Lucas, his principal biographer, as the most lovable figure in English literature. Lamb was honoured by The Latymer School, a grammar school in Edmonton, a suburb of London where he lived for a time; it has six houses, one of which, "Lamb", is named after Charles. Youth and Schooling Lamb was the son of Elizabeth Field and John Lamb. Lamb was the youngest child,... Read more...

Poet of the day

Linda Pastan is an American poet of Jewish background. She was born in New York on May 27, 1932. Today, she lives in Potomac, Maryland with her husband Ira Pastan, an accomplished physician and researcher.

She is known for writing short poems that address topics like family life, domesticity, motherhood,...

Poem of the day

Mellem dit Bryst og din Kind
dèr sank jeg i Kjærligheds-Drømme,
vugget saa sagtelig ind.
som baaren af bølgende Strømme.
Som Aftenbrisen, saa sval og let,
paa min Pande vifted dit Aandedræt,
og langsomt standsed mit Sind,
som en Baad, der svæver ved...